At first blush, this may appear to be off blog-topic. It is not. File this one under the consistent thread of parenting that adorns Longears and Sourdough. Tonight, I send Daughter Number One, who just made sweet sixteen, off on her first date. Dressed in a modest formal, she and her date join two other couples for a Preference dance at her high school. As she leaves the house, the thought strikes me, "I just sent my first daughter on her premier date and I'm totally comfortable with it." I must really take it for granted that she is on the right track. Poised, confident, graceful...Daughter Number One moves with purpose and is constantly up to something good. Suddenly, my shirt feels too tight. But the story doesn't end there.
While Daughter Number One is on her date, her Mom and I are first-time chaperones at a church dance for all the youngsters in our region. We enter the church and I begin to sweat. Twenty Six years have removed me from the teenaged dance scene. The dance hall is full of young people swaying oddly to music completely alien to my ears. Our instructions are to see that the young dancers adhere to standards of modesty and decency at the dance. One young lady dances into view, obviously stretching the rules with a revealing dress. I can ride herd on the girls at home if they stretch their modesty, but I'm not a very good cop in this foreign environment, so I look away as she repeatedly adjusts her uncomfortably, low cut top. The rest of the room is packed with youth dressed in their best Sunday-go-to-meetings.
The sea of youth gyrate in alternating cycles of chaos and synchronicity. They move at random mostly, then like a leaderless school of mackerel, the room becomes a unity of saltatory motion. I try to remember my own au courant swim to find my youthful purpose in life, but I have forgotten how to act in this water.
Milling around, I see Mom surrounded by a group of boys. She has their undivided attention, so I saunter over, trying not to collide with the graceful leaps and frenzied kicks of the dancers. Drawing near, she points to me saying, "and this is Kailee Gooch's dad." With all the fainting enthusiasm of teenage girls at an Elvis concert, they turn to me, grabbing my hand, one by one. "Really!? You are Kailee Gooch's dad!?" one boy cries. Another violently shakes my hand, "SO glad to meet you!" A third exclaims, "Kailee is the COOLEST person on Planet Earth!" In a flash of silver light, the mackerel reverse direction and I go from faceless chaperone to celebrity extraordinaire. Nothing in life has prepared me for the sudden, soul-piercing swell of parental emotion that floods the little I-am in my core. And Life's greatest mantle...Father, adorns my purpose.